Tidewater Jewish Foundation welcomes Naomi Sedek, new CEO and president

July 9, 2020

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After a national search, the Tidewater Jewish Foundation is ready to welcome Naomi Limor Sedek as its new president and chief executive officer.

Coming from Nashville, Tennessee, Sedek’s lifelong work and passion for the promotion of Jewish life at the Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee made her the stand-out candidate for the Tidewater position.

“We are thrilled to have someone of Naomi’s caliber leading the Tidewater Jewish Foundation,” says Lawrence Steingold, outgoing board chair of the Foundation. “Her expertise and passion for Jewish life will only strengthen the Tidewater Jewish community.”

“I look forward to having Naomi as a colleague in our work for Tidewater’s Jewish community,” says Betty Ann Levin, United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s executive vice president/CEO. “Together, I’m confident we’ll continue to keep our community on a secure and positive path for the future.”

The Tidewater Jewish community won’t need 23andMe to see why Sedek chose a path committed to building Jewish community through philanthropy and legacy giving. Sedek has worked to connect people to their Judaism since becoming a teen donor at age 12. She has since built an impressive career centered around Jewish philanthropy and marked by mission leadership, engagement-driven endowment, and synergy.

“I knew all four of my grandparents, and my kids got to know them, too,” says Sedek. “They were the first Holocaust survivors to go out and talk to people and educational outreach programs in the Nashville Jewish Community have been named by them. They created a legacy for me to be able to follow.”

As the former assistant executive director of the Jewish Federation of Nashville, Sedek sees unique opportunities for her to foster continued Jewish community growth in Tidewater. One of her priorities is to meet with community members to hear their stories and absorb the meaning behind legacies they have built and will continue developing in the future.

“My unique talent is finding the apex between donors’ legacy wishes and helping them discover new vehicles and ways the Foundation can be a partner in making those dreams a reality,” says Sedek.

In her position as assistant executive director, Sedek worked full time while earning her MBA, completing the Executive Program as a Forte Fellow at Vanderbilt University. The takeaway from that experience helped solidify her desire to pursue opportunities in the Jewish world where sharing her expertise and knowledge with other Jewish communities could generate change.

“The Foundation work intrigues me because I know how essential it is for Jewish organizations to secure their futures through endowment opportunities, thus alleviating the burden on annual fundraising drives,” says Sedek. “As the demographics of community connections shift and change, it becomes even more critical to facilitate Jewish philanthropic conversations that transmit values and bridge gaps between generations.”

Sedek also implemented and tested a new Professional Advisory Council model in Nashville. She found it to be a pivotal and valuable tool for member engagement.

“I took over the management of the Jewish Foundation in Nashville four years ago and adopted certain programs and engagement opportunities that have real potential in Tidewater,” says Sedek.

While the transition from Nashville to Tidewater will take some time, Sedek knows that when she steps into her role on July 15, she’ll have a great community behind her back.

“Those I have met in Tidewater have showed me what a warm and welcoming community you have,” says Sedek. “Each organization that makes up the Tidewater Jewish community brings unique value. While working on the LIFE & LEGACY program in Nashville, I served as an honest broker in ensuring the future of every organization. This global approach, where the entire Jewish spectrum is supported, helps to strengthen the entire community.”

“My grandmother lived to see the work I was doing and was very proud. I always wondered if we had the strong Jewish community we have today, would we have had the power to stop what had happened,” says Sedek. “I feel a great responsibility to previous generations to continue to build a Jewish, strong community for whoever needs it today—and long into the future. We are only stronger together.”

- Lisa Richmon

Letter to the Editor